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How to Use Vertical Video for Brand Storytelling

Posted January 20, 2020
Written by Lana Sciasci
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Clipchamp blog vertical videos

Not too long ago, vertical video was ridiculed as the tell-tale sign of an amateur film maker. Youtube comment sections of vertical uploads were littered with insults and a 2012 Youtube video titled Vertical Video Syndrome, where puppets sing about a fictitious disease compelling people to film vertically, was viewed 3.2 million times. But this is the internet, and things change quickly. Fast-forward to 2020 and vertical video is everywhere. 

This change is the result of three things: users’ love of everything mobile, their preference for videos over still images and the introduction of story functions to social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook and Youtube. According to Statista, video views on mobile grew from around 14 percent of all video views in 2012 to 58 percent in 2018 and this has only continued to grow. Brand storytellers take note – vertical video is here to stay and if you want to connect with your audience, it’s time to get on board.  

In this article, we’ll provide you with the essential information you need to shoot, edit and distribute vertical videos that you can use to tell your brand’s story. Below are the topics we’ll cover:

  1. Shooting vertical video

  2. Vertical video editor tips

  3. Sharing vertical video on Youtube, Instagram and Facebook

1. Shooting vertical video

Shot composition

It’s time to flip your approach to shooting video. The best vertical videos are (you guessed it) filmed vertically! This can be trickier than it sounds, mainly because we’re all so used to the horizontal standard of filming for platforms like Youtube, television and cinema. Vertical shot composition can pose some creative challenges but it’s important not to see this as a negative, many cinematographers are now opting to shoot vertical films and there’s even a Vertical Film Festival.

When planning the composition for your vertical video, it’s important to take into account the tight nature of the frame. Vertical frames are compact, meaning you don’t have the wide space you’re used to having horizontally. There won’t be room to build depth with foreground objects and empty space so it’s important to keep things simple. The majority of the focus in a vertical video is forced onto the main subject. This can actually be a great thing for content destined for distribution on mobile – simple, focused videos are the most likely content to capture the attention of busy users scrolling through their social media feeds.

Positively, there’s one new element that vertical composition introduces – height. You can fill the tall space in these frames with more elements that tell your story or leave it free to add layover text or CTAs during editing.

Filming equipment

Now that you understand how to compose your video, it’s important to shoot with the correct equipment. If you’re yet to find the right camera for you, check out our Beginner’s Ultimate Guide to Video Cameras. No matter what camera you’re using, they can all be adjusted to film excellent vertical videos. 


By far the easiest way to shoot vertical video is on your smartphone. Why not shoot on the device your content is ultimately destined for? To shoot vertically on a smartphone you don’t really need to do much (just ignore your instinct to tilt your phone horizontally). Most newer models of Smartphone have excellent camera quality but if you’re concerned about audio quality, check out our post about how to record professional audio on your smartphone.


If you plan to shoot your vertical video on something a little more advanced, make sure you’ve prepared it to shoot vertically. If you’re using a tripod or rig you’ll need to adjust it to allow your camera to tip vertically. On the same note, ensure that the viewfinder is positioned vertically as well so you’re aware of exactly what your content is going to look like.

2. Vertical video editor tips

Uploading your footage

With your vertical video filmed, it’s time to upload. It’s at this point that you might encounter the dreaded black bars on either side of your footage that the Vertical Video Syndrome video sings about. Don’t panic! You just need to change the ratio on the editing program you’re using to 9:16 or, if you’re using Clipchamp Create, you can simply select the Portrait format before you get started to avoid that trouble altogether. 

Clipchamp create portrait format

Editing your video

Start strong

A 2013 study by Microsoft found that the average person now has an attention span (8 seconds) shorter than a goldfish (9 seconds). On mobile, where the majority of vertical videos are viewed, we suspect this is even shorter. With this in mind, we think it’s a good idea to start your vertical video with a bang! Edit your video so that your strongest, most captivating footage makes up the first few seconds and try to also fit the most important element of your message/branding in here as well.

Clipchamp blog attention span

Keep it simple

As you get used to editing vertical videos, you’ll notice how adding elements like borders, graphics and text can quickly make your video feel overstuffed. We recommend keeping your additional elements minimal (one to two maximum) by only adding what’s necessary. To save you time, Clipchamp Create offers a range of story templates that will keep your vertical video editing clean and simple.

Clipchamp create Instagram story template

Optimise for silent viewing

According to Hootsuite, 85 percent of Facebook videos are watched with sound off and 80 percent of viewers report actually having a negative reaction to mobile videos that play unexpected loud sounds. On that note, it’s important to optimise your vertical videos for silent viewing. This means it’s a great idea to add text, captions or CTAs to your videos in the editing process – we suggest keeping the text simple and easy to read. Profiles like the Instagram of personal care brand By Humankind do an excellent job of optimising storytelling vertical videos for silent viewing.

Our tip – Remember that extra space the tall dimensions of vertical videos gives you at the top of the frame? Place your text or CTAs here for easy to read captions that won’t disrupt the look of your video.

Clipchamp blog By Humankind Instagram story

Timing is everything

So, how long should you edit your vertical video to be? It really depends on the platform you intend to share it on, although a general rule of thumb is the shorter the better (excluding IGTV). Below are the lengths considered best practice on vertical video platforms.

  • Instagram stories: 15 seconds maximum. 

  • Facebook stories: 20 seconds maximum.

  • Youtube stories: 15 seconds.

  • Instagram ads: 15 seconds. 

  • Facebook ads: 15 seconds.

  • IGTV: 15 seconds to 10 minutes (standard accounts) 15 seconds to 60 minutes (verified accounts).  

Exporting your video

After all of the hard work you’ve put in editing, you wouldn’t want to export your files incorrectly. Below are the ideal specifications for exporting vertical videos.

  • Dimensions: 1080px x 1920px. 

  • Resolution: 720p (social media) 1080p (video streaming sites).

Clipchamp Create export setting

3. Sharing vertical video on Youtube, Instagram and Facebook

With your vertical video exported and ready to use, it’s time to explore the platforms you can share it on.


Clipchamp blog Youtube stories

We know what you’re thinking. Vertical videos on Youtube? Isn’t that the last place I should post them? In 2012 maybe, but 2020 brings with it a Youtube that embraces vertical video, it’s even launched a new way to watch optimised for it – Youtube stories.


Youtube stories, similar to Instagram and Facebook stories, is ideal for sharing short, captivating video content. Youtube stories is only available on the Youtube mobile app, making it an ideal platform to share vertical video. 

If you’re unfamiliar with how Youtube stories work, simply follow the instructions below to get started.

  1. Access your edited vertical video on your mobile and add it to camera roll.

  2. Sign in to the Youtube mobile app.

  3. Tap the video camera icon to open Youtube stories.

  4. Select your edited vertical video from your camera roll when it appears.

  5. You’ll then have the option to add extra stickers, effects etc.

  6. Tap post to share your Youtube Story with your subscribers.


Clipchamp blog Instagram on mobile

After Snapchat, Instagram was one of the earliest adopters of story-style sharing. This means their story platform has now grown to offer several options for how you share your vertical videos. Below is a simple guide for where to share what types of vertical videos.


This platform is ideal for short, captivating videos that you’re happy to have disappear after 24 hours. Great for timely posts like new announcements and special events.

Story ads

This platform also requires short, captivating videos but one with more of a focus on inspiring action from viewers. You can set up Instagram story ads to be active for extended amounts of time so it’s best to ensure that the video you’re sharing won’t date too quickly – similar to evergreen content.


This platform offers a departure from the usual style of vertical videos. IGTV is a space on Instagram developed for permanent, long-form videos. Brand storytelling can really run wild here – create tutorials, behind the scenes videos, interviews or even an original series.


Clipchamp blog Facebook on mobile

It may have taken a little longer, but in recent years Facebook has taken note of user behaviour and hopped on the vertical video bandwagon. Here’s a guide to where what you should share where.


Just like Instagram’s version, Facebook stories are the place for quick, attention grabbing videos that you’re happy to have disappear after 24 hours. In particular, for timely posts like new announcements and special events. 

Story ads

This platform also requires short, captivating videos but one with more of a focus on inspiring action from viewers. You can set up Instagram story ads to be active for extended amounts of time so it’s best to ensure that the video you’re sharing won’t date too quickly – similar to evergreen content


If you’d like to post a vertical video to your wall, the smart folks over at Facebook have made sure that, even on their desktop site, vertical videos won’t show with those notorious black bars around them. Your wall is an excellent place for evergreen-style content that will stand the test of time.

Ready to get started?

Over the past decade, vertical video has transformed from an industry taboo into the future of mobile viewing. With the information above, you’re ready to start storytelling in a whole new format, one destined to connect with the ever growing pool of users watching on their mobile devices.

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